|Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced moves Thursday to|
fight the spread of fentanyl. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)
As part of the fight, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department prosecutors in Kentucky and other areas "that have been especially hard-hit by overdose deaths from fentanyl to bring drug charges against anyone suspected of dealing the synthetic opioid, regardless of quantity," reports Sari Horwitz of The Washington Post.
Horwitz notes, "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016, a figure driven by a dramatic surge in deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids." In Kentucky that year, almost half (623) of the 1,404 overdose deaths involved fentanyl, which "is often mixed into heroin or cocaine," Horwitz notes. "It is 50 times more powerful than heroin, 100 times more powerful than morphine and can kill a user almost instantly. Dealers also press fentanyl into counterfeit pills sold on the street. Most illicit fentanyl comes into the United States through the mail or express shipping systems or is brought across the southwest border, according to the Justice Department."